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Rockies to address 'pen, prospects in offseason

@harding_at_mlb
November 3, 2019

DENVER -- Let's revisit some questions that are sure to be on the minds of Rockies fans this offseason. Can the Rockies jettison one or more of their high-priced relievers -- Wade Davis ($17 million), Bryan Shaw ($9 million) and Jake McGee ($9.5 million), all of whom had struggles in

DENVER -- Let's revisit some questions that are sure to be on the minds of Rockies fans this offseason.

Can the Rockies jettison one or more of their high-priced relievers -- Wade Davis ($17 million), Bryan Shaw ($9 million) and Jake McGee ($9.5 million), all of whom had struggles in 2019?

Indications are that the Rockies believe Davis is who his track record says he is. His club-record 43 saves to help the Rockies to the postseason in 2018 are part of that record. It remains to be seen whether Davis will be the closer or part of a late-game bullpen that figures to include Scott Oberg and Jairo Díaz, who performed well in their turns in the closer role, and the hard-throwing Carlos Estévez.

Shaw, who at times showed a workable curveball but had some blowups, attracted some Trade Deadline interest, but he has an incentive that could give pause. If he appears in 40 games in 2020 and is healthy at the start of ‘21, a $9 million option for ‘21 becomes guaranteed.

McGee went into his final five appearances with a sub-4.00 ERA, but he saw 65 percent of the runners he inherited score. However, before August was over, some reports suggested him as a pickup for a contender.

Could the Rockies really deal core players?

Some have suggested trading veteran outfielder Charlie Blackmon to an American League team, but the money would be complicated. And considering the Rockies see themselves as a contender, would they be able to replace a player who could hit anywhere from leadoff to cleanup and will be coming off a .314/.364/.576 slash line this season?

It’s possible that the Rockies could look to move Daniel Murphy, who struggled with injuries and less-than-desirable defense at first base, but his commitment of at least $14 million (including a $6 million buyout that increases to $7 million with award bonuses, such as the All-Star Game) could give pause.

The Rockies tend to hold on to their prospects, but expect teams to ask about infielder Brendan Rodgers, their No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, or left-hander Ryan Rolison (No. 2 prospect). Rodgers, who had a pedestrian Major League debut but plenty of offensive upside, is coming off season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. Teams could also look at a couple of the younger infield prospects, such as Ryan Vilade (No. 6) and Terrin Vavra (No. 7).

Beyond the stated plan, why is so little news expected?

First baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Drew Butera are free agents, but beyond them, no Rockies were eligible for free agency or holding vexing contract options.

What are key arbitration decisions?

The Rockies parted with left-hander Tyler Anderson (claimed off waivers by the Giants) and righty reliever Chad Bettis, who became a free agent after refusing an outright assignment to Triple-A Albuquerque. Both were on the 60-day injured list when the Rockies made their decisions.

The Rockies have until Nov. 4 to re-add right-hander Jon Gray, Oberg and Rodgers – all of whom saw their seasons end early because of injury – to the 40-man roster from the 60-day IL, and until Dec. 2 to decide whether to offer contracts for ‘20.

Two situations to watch closely are that of Trevor Story, who could be in line for a multiyear deal, and outfielder David Dahl, who is expected to be a Super Two and therefore arbitration-eligible.

Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and is there a crunch for roster spots?

The Rockies have several Top 30 prospects eligible to be placed on the roster and protected from the Rule 5 Draft -- Ben Bowden (Rockies No. 8), a lefty reliever who made it to Triple-A this year, corner infielder Tyler Nevin (No. 11), first baseman Roberto Ramos (No. 28), right-hander Reid Humphreys (No. 19, coming off right shoulder surgery) and outfielder Daniel Montano (No. 25). There is also righty Mike Nikorak, a 2015 supplemental first-round pick who has dealt with injuries.

The Rockies also could have a wild card in right-hander Ashton Goudeau, 27, who pitched for the Royals (2012-17) and Mariners (2017-18) organizations before joining the Rockies in 2019. Goudeau, who has developed a solid fastball-curve combination, had an eye-opening Arizona Fall League performance.

How might the Rockies manage their roster?

Having players claimed off waivers -- Anderson, lefty reliever Sam Howard (Pirates) and infielder Pat Valaika (Orioles) -- has relieved some of the crunch. By outrighting righty starter Tim Melville to Albuquerque, the Rockies opened a 40-man roster spot and gave themselves a chance to preserve his Minor League option.

What needs could the Rockies fill via free agency or a trade?

As Rockies leadership said in October, acquiring someone on a big contract is unlikely given the big-ticket players already in the fold. But we can dream of the pitching staff adding Tanner Roark or Jake Odorizzi, can’t we? While we’re at it, wouldn’t J.D. Martinez (should he opt out of his deal with the Red Sox) or Marcell Ozuna look good in Purple Pinstripes in the outfield?

If the Rockies make a minor move, what should fans expect?

Two of the key cogs this season were right-hander German Márquez, the then-unknown prospect in the trade of outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Rays, and catcher Tony Wolters, claimed off waivers from the Indians in 2016. Neither was a headline player.

A prime example of what the Rockies need can be seen in the Dodgers, who can afford big-ticket names but helped build a World Series contender by snapping up undervalued players. The signing of third baseman Justin Turner was not big news at the time. Super-utility man Chris Taylor came in an under-the-radar deal with the Mariners, and Kiké Hernandez was one of multiple players who changed hands in a trade with the Marlins.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.